Today at the Belize Biltmore Plaza Hotel, the Pan American Social Marketing Organization,( PASMO), launched a new interactive website designed to provide information and support for people living with HIV, their families and friends in Belize.
President of C-NET Plus, Eric Castellanos says the website named: 'and what now', makes reference to the moment in which a person receives the results of an HIV test and many times doesn't know what to do, or where to get help.
Eric Castellanos - President, C-NET+
"This website was created thinking of the necessities and the many questions we face when we are diagnosed with HIV. We know our health system - how it works, and the doctors have to attend to many clients, and they have very little time. So they have a few minutes to answer your questions. And many times you leave out from the clinic with more questions than when you arrived. So, this website is a space where you can find answers to those types of questions. It is also a space where you can chat with other peers, and you can learn from each other's experiences. And your family members - your friends - can learn about HIV, and in that way, reduce stigma discrimination against us."
"How does the website work? Is it user-friendly?"
"It is very user-friendly. You can go in and you find information specific to whatever topic you are interested in. It might be sexually transmitted infections. It can just be basic information about HIV, stuff like nutrition - which is important for us people living with HIV adherence - how to manage, because when you are HIV positive, and you are taking medication, it is something that lasts for a lifetime. So it is something very difficult sometimes when you are working, and the times when you have to take your medication. They have tapes in here that you can find on how other people have managed, and have been successful to adherence, sticking to good nutrition, and adopt healthy behaviors."
Over the past two years, there's been a significant decline in the number of new aids cases in Belize, which is good news.
But for many living with the virus, there's reluctance to seek public assistance for fear that their right to privacy might be compromised. The new website will allow users to remain anonymous.
Keron Kacho - Program Coordinator, PASMO
"Well, PASMO Belize has been - for several years - working with various high-risk populations. We've been increasing our work with person living with HIV, and we found out that there was sole need for information. Let's say, for instance, a person is infected with - or found out that they were positive, there was a lot of questions as to where or what, and what now, in terms of where they can get the information from. And many persons, because of wanting to be discreet about their status, would tend to not seek information, which is pretty bad for that individual. So we found a way, which is the website, in which would be able to promote this information in a discreet manner."
All of the information on the website is public and accessible to anyone. Interested persons can log on to the new website at:www.andwhatnow.info.